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The curious case of Call of Duty: Warzone crossplay

Locked and loaded.

Last week, Eurogamer revealed how Call of Duty players on console were disabling crossplay in order to escape cheaters on PC. But it turns out not all console players have this option.

Much was made of Call of Duty's new crossplay feature when it was confirmed - and with good reason. For the first time friends could play Activision's blockbuster shooter across platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC players all matchmaking together. Crossplay means a larger playerbase, quicker matchmaking and full lobbies. It's fantastic - in principle.

Every game has some element of cheating, of course, and no publisher or developer can eradicate it from their game. But with the launch of the standalone and free battle royale Warzone, cheating in Call of Duty ramped up - especially on PC. And so console players looked for answers.

Some found it in the crossplay toggle within the Call of Duty settings. Here, you're able to disable crossplay, forcing you to matchmake with those on your platform only. But while this option is in the settings for all versions of the game, we've found disabling crossplay for Warzone is an exclusive feature for PS4 - despite Activision's own crossplay FAQ suggesting all players can turn it off.

This is curious indeed. When it comes to multiplayer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you can disable crossplay across all platforms. However, when it comes to Warzone, if you disable crossplay in the game settings, the PC and Xbox One version forces you to enable crossplay in order to enter matchmaking, much to the annoyance of players on those platforms. While the PS4 version encourages you to enable crossplay, it doesn't prevent you from matchmaking with it disabled.

You cannot play Warzone with crossplay disabled on PC and Xbox One.

Xbox One players have tried to brute force disabling Warzone crossplay by going into the system settings. Here, you're able to tell your Xbox One to block multiplayer gaming with players on other gaming services outside of Xbox Live. However, with this block turned on - and crossplay enabled in Warzone in order to reach matchmaking - you end up searching for a game without success. While I've seen some reports Xbox One players were able to find Warzone matches eventually using this method, I've been unable to.

So, what's going on? Activision declined to comment when we asked about it this week. But it's worth noting that it makes complete sense for developer Infinity Ward to want Warzone to be played with crossplay enabled across all platforms. This is a 150-player mode, after all. The more people looking to play, the quicker matches begin across all platforms.

It's also worth noting that while Warzone has proven extremely popular, with 50 million players as of 10th April, the number of players per platform will be limited by the install base of each platform within each region. Take Europe, for example. In the UK there's a fairly even split when it comes to the install base of the PS4 and the Xbox One. But in parts of Europe, the PS4 outnumbers the Xbox One by a considerable margin. With Warzone needing 150 players per match, and with Infinity Ward looking to boost that to 200 at some point in the future, some players in some regions may suffer long matchmaking without crossplay.

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So, Infinity Ward forces crossplay on Warzone on PC and Xbox One. But on PS4 it's different. Sony, of course, took some convincing to enable crossplay on PS4 in the first place, with battle royale phenomenon Fortnite pretty much forcing the feature through. But it always felt like Sony gave the green light to crossplay through gritted teeth. Back in 2017, when I quizzed PlayStation boss Jim Ryan on PS4's lack of crossplay, he said: "We've got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft - the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it's all ages but it's also very young. We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it's something we have to think about very carefully."

Activision and Sony partnered up for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, resulting in some annoying PS4 exclusives. For now, it seems, disabling crossplay on Warzone is another one.

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